UPDATED ONCE BELOW
So I've had a lot of ideas or central thesesfor posts bangin' around my not-quite-as-young brain, but it's becoming clear to me that, with the final week of the LCT job coming up etc. I might not have time to write all of them. So here are ideas for posts, Jack Handy Style. Please feel free to share your reactions/responses/questions whatever to any of them and, perhaps later, a few of them will be expanded into longer form...
-- Time Out NY this week's cover proclaimes The Hipster Must Die! This seems rather like New York Magazine proclaiming Death to All Socialites or the NYTimes saying The Upper West Side Must Be Destroyed!
-- Once we've decided we're interested in casting an actor whom we've never worked with before, perhaps it would be helpful to take that person out for a cup of coffee before finalizing the offer of the part. This would be to make better sure of compatibility of working style and vision for the material. This should happen after auditions as a way of addressing the inadequacies of the audition process. UPDATE: I've been informed that many Equity contracts do not allow for this possibility. So... check your union rules (and the union status of that actor) before doing it!
-- Next time Elsewhere decides to produce a show, I would like to devote some of the show's budget to a 2 week exploration of the show with the actors, the writer and possibly a designer or two in the room. This would differ from the evil "workshop" we all decry as part of NPD in several ways. First, there would be nothing shown to an audience at the end (except perhaps for an invited rehearsal, if the writer felt it was needed). Second, the point would not be to "fix" the play, but rather to learn how it works and how to do it. All of the workshops I've directed (and i felt all of them were at least moderately successful) I've said at the beginning that this is about workshopping an approach to the material, and that by doing that, the writer may discover new things about the material (or about the approach) to add or subtract. This would continue that practice. Third, there would already be a commitment to produce the play, in other words, it would already be something we want to do, we're not luring a writer in with a carrot only to hit them with a stick. This would address many problems that flow from the showcase code (lack of rehearsal time being chief among them). It's important to pay everyone involved.
-- Art requires vulnerability. The frustrating thing about critics is that they help foster an environment where vulnerability is harder to sustain.
-- We are frequently faced with a choice between ignoring a problem, treating its symptoms, or treating the "disease" that those symptoms reveal. In personal relationships-- a friend who is frequently mean. In rehearsal-- bad actor behavior. We need to recognize that choosing any of these three things (all of which are valid choices) have consequences.
-- Explanations for things can be a way of avoiding making moves around them.
-- The important quesiton that rarely gets asked: how are we going to work together? This is true in positive and negative working situations.
-- I frequently get fed up with theatre that is saying difficult things to merather than asking me some difficult questions. The first of these two things leaves me with few moves other than agreement or rejection.
-- In the absense of solutions, we have progress
-- The self can be the most powerful form of escapism
-- What dichotomies aren't false to a large extent?
-- There is an ethical obligation in low-paying jobs (like, say, indie theatre) to create a good working environment and treat people well. Few things anger me more than people who feel entitled to the labor of their actors, stage managers, designers. There is absolutely no excuse for this, including "talent". A good working environment for theatre does not need to be a conflict-free or happy one (or one devoted to making people "feel good"), in fact, frequently avoiding conflict in the rehearsal room will make rehearsal a waste of time. But respect is important.
-- When we put on plays, what we are really doing to some extent is creating events. And I don't mean events like Schoolhouse Rocks Live! But rather that as directors and designers, it's helpful to think of the audience's experience of the play starting way before the play starts.